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Southwest Airlines employees picket outside airport

Southwest_picket.jpg
Chris Caya WBFO News
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After going more than three years without a contract, picket lines went up at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport and more than a dozen other airports across the country on Tuesday.Contract talks between Southwest Airlines and the Transport Workers Union of America Local 555 have been underway since July 2011. Dave Garner is among the airlines' roughly 70 ground workers, including baggage handlers, in Buffalo. Garner says Southwest has been dragging their feet on negotiations.

"Southwest is making record profits, probably over $1 billion this year, and all we're looking for is maybe a cost of living raise and a couple of other small things," said Garner.

TWU's representative in Buffalo, Richard Perry says the bigger planes Southwest now flies create more work.

"[It's] a lot busier than it used to be," Perry told WBFO.

According to the TWU, its members are "no longer treated as valuable assets, but rather as liabilities on a spreadsheet."

A written statement issued by the airline says "TWU 555 employees at Southwest have the highest pay rates in the industry."